Sunday, 23 September, 2018

Merkel pledges 'fresh start' for Europe with new government

Merkel strikes preliminary deal to hold power in German coalition Germany Hints At Solidarity Tax Cut
Frank Williams | 13 January, 2018, 04:00

Chancellor Angela Merkel said her conservatives reached a breakthrough deal Friday with Germany's second biggest party, the Social Democrats, toward building a new coalition government that would give Europe a "fresh start".

The 28-page deal reached in a marathon negotiating session that lasted more than 24 hours at the end of almost a week of talks was enough for leaders of Merkel's two-party Union bloc and the Social Democrats to recommend moving on to formal coalition negotiations.

There were also compromises on tax and employer-funded health insurance, and a plan to push for greater financial European Union integration.

The section on Europe, entitled, A New Awakening for Europe, is the most concrete response so far from Berlin to French President Emmanuel Macron's ideas for reforming the European Union, spelled out days after the German election in September in a speech at the Sorbonne University in Paris.

Left party chairwoman Sahra Wagenknecht said the deal would perpetuate "blatant social injustice", including Germany's precarious low-wage sector and poverty in old age, while business raked in "gushing dividends".

Politicians stayed up all night to discuss the 28-page document, with the talks lasting more than 24 hours. "But I don't think we need a new instrument to do so", he said.

The prospective partners have governed Germany together for the past four years but Schulz, Merkel's defeated challenger in Germany's September 24 election, initially said after the Social Democrats crashed to a disastrous result that they would go into opposition.

Merkel defended the deal, saying it sets the stage for ensuring Germany's prosperity for the next 10 to 15 years and for the "relaunch of Europe" in partnership with France.

"If we succeed, these could be four very, very good years - I am already speaking of these years because I believe we will succeed", he said.

German Social Democrats wary as coalition talks enter crunch stage

"The agreement between Merkel and Schulz forms the basis for a new coalition government in Germany".

Germany has been in political limbo since a September 24 election in which Merkel failed to win a clear majority - in part due to the rise of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) which took millions of votes from all major parties.

The euro jumped to a three-year high against the United States dollar after the deal was announced, reflecting the relief of analysts and the perceived importance of German leadership to the European economy.

The three coalition parties' support dropped by a cumulative total of almost 14 percentage points in the election. The parties pledged that Germany will play an active role in the debate on the EU's future and strengthening European integration.

Although Merkel's Christian Democrats differ with many of French President Emmanuel Macron's proposals for sweeping reforms of the European Union, Merkel expressed hope they would hammer out compromises to address major challenges facing the bloc.

The preliminary deal means the parties can start negotiations on the next coalition government.

Dr Merkel wants to conclude negotiations on forming a coalition government by mid-February, a source in her conservative party said on Friday (Jan 12).

Ms. Merkel used her statement to talk about the many technical solutions included in the agreement.

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